Piazza Santa Maria Novella is one of the most important squares in Florence. It is located between the central station, which is also called Santa Maria Novella, and the Piazza del Duomo. Its principal attractions are the Santa Maria Novella Basilica itself and the San Paolo Hospital.
Piazza Santa Maria Novella Florence
Piazza Santa Maria Novella has been enlarged several times in the course of history. The reason for this was that more and more believers came to pray on the square.
It was built in 1287. The work was carried out by order of the city itself. In order to complete the square, several existing houses had to be demolished. Construction was completed in 1325.
On the west side of the square there are a number of palaces built in the 16th and 17th century. The east side does not form a straight line and is the result of renovations in the 19th century.
The Santa Maria Novella Church is on the north side of the square. The magnificent façade was completed in 1470 by Leon Battista Alberti. He did use an already existing construction from the 14th century. The Santa Maria Novella Museum is located next to the church itself.
On the other side of the church is the San Paolo Hospital, founded in the 12th century. This building is characterized by the beautiful loggia. At first the sick were cared for here, but from 1592 the lake was a rest home for recovering patients. In 1780, Leopold of Lorraine dissolved all religious institutions and converted it into a school. Today it is the seat of the Alinari Museum of Photography.
The Pitti-Broccardi Palace was the residence of the Pitti family before they built the famous Palazzo Pitti.
On the corner of Via della Scala there is a tabernacle depicting the “Madonna with Child and Saints”. The original was painted by Francesco d’Antonio, while the current fresco is a copy.
From the Middle Ages onwards, Piazza Santa Maria Novella was used for parties and other events. The most important of these is a chariot race called the Palio dei Cocchi. Two marble obelisks built by the sculptor Giambologna bear witness to this tradition.